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How to Brew Coffee with a Drip Coffee Maker

Making Perfect Coffee With a Drip Coffee Maker

Drip coffee makers are the single most popular small kitchen appliance in the U.S. You can buy an automatic drip coffee maker for as little as ten dollars, or go all out for one with all features, including its own coffee grinder, for over two hundred dollars. Despite the growing love espresso, even espresso lovers sometimes admit that they just want a good cup of joe.

There’s no big secret to making good coffee with a drip coffee maker. It’s simple and straightforward, with a few things to keep in mind.

Invest in a coffee grinder

It’s amazing what a difference that one single thing makes. When you grind coffee, you increase the surface area of the coffee bean that is exposed to air, hastening the release of the oils that give coffee its rich flavor. If possible, grind coffee right before you use it. If you don’t have a coffee grinder, buy at a store that sells whole beans that you can grind yourself. Buy just enough for a few days at a time, if possible, and store it in an airtight container.

Buy good coffee

“Good coffee” is subjective, however the better the coffee you start with, the better the coffee you’ll end up with.  It’s best to avoid the big supermarket displays with plastic bins of coffee beans from which you scoop, or pour, the beans into a bag. The bins aren’t airtight and you have no idea how long they’ve been sitting in those bins getting stale. Vacuum-sealed bags or cans of coffee beans are better.  Ground coffee in a vacuum sealed bag is a better choice than coffee beans from the big bins.

Keep your drip coffee maker and coffee pot clean

Coffee oils cling to everything. Once the oils are deposited they start growing rancid. Wash out your pot and filter basket every time you make a fresh pot.  Clean your coffee maker once a week, remembering to clean the shower heads up where the filter basket goes, and descale it once a month.

Use a paper filter

The “permanent coffee filters” in gold or nylon sound like a great idea, however coffee residues tend to collect in hard to clean places on them. It’s better and easier to buy good quality paper coffee filters and have a fresh one for every brew.

Use enough coffee

The biggest mistake that people make when making coffee in a drip coffee maker is using too little coffee. Use a full tablespoon of ground coffee for each 8 ounces of water.

Use fresh, cold water

You may have heard the recommendation to use distilled water with all the minerals and impurities removed. Distilled water may be good for your machine, but it makes flat tasting coffee. If your tap water is good for drinking, it will make good coffee. If it’s not, use a water filter or spring water.

Avoid the temptation to use the brew pause

The first cup or so of coffee will carry most of the coffee flavor. If you pour that off and return the pot to fill the rest of the way, the first cup of coffee will be very strong and the rest of the pot weak.

Take the coffee off the warming plate when it’s done brewing

Coffee left on the warmer plate will continue to “cook”. Instead, pour any coffee that’s left over into a thermal pot, preferably one with a vacuum seal.


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